To help prop up their nascent NBA Africa initiative, the National Basketball Association is turning to a big name.
The league announced Tuesday that former President Barack Obama has joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner and will take a minority equity stake. The statement says Obama will "help advance the league’s social responsibility efforts across the continent, including programs and partnerships that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion."
Obama reportedly intends to use his stake to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs in Africa.
What is NBA Africa?
The NBA announced in 2019 that it would partner with FIBA to form the Basketball Africa League, assembling a collection of 12 pre-existing teams across the continent to create a unified league supported by the NBA's considerable resources.
The BAL's inaugural season had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but eventually held its inaugural season this May. (with some involvement from rapper J. Cole). Egypt's Zamalek SC won the first championship, defeating Tunisia's US Monastir.
Amid that season, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the creation of NBA Africa, a broader entity to handle standalone business operations and accelerate the basketball ecosystem of a growing market. Among the initial investors were past NBA players Grant Hill, Dikembe Mutombo, Junior Bridgeman, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. And now, Obama is joining the ownership of an entity that Silver initially valued at $1 billion,
From the NBA:
“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” said President Barack Obama. “By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people.
"I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities. That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”
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